Saturday, July 30, 2011

Book List: Steampunk

So, what the devil is steampunk anyways! I've seem a lot of "steampunk jewelry" and "steampunk art," but until now I didn't know exactly what it was. So I thought I'd do a little research and this is what I came up with.

Steampunk is an genre that was formerly underground but is becoming more popular. As literature, it began with authors such as Jules Verne and H.P. Lovecraft. Today's steampunk authors tend to write books that are set in alternative-realm Victorian era, or have a Victorian vibe. But the difference is that they are technology-heavy with such inventions as multi-spectrum binoculars and steam powered airships, as well as have supernatural elements.

Aesthetically, steampunk is primarily costumes with corsets, top hats, horn-rimmed glasses, and poison darts hidden disguised in parasols. It's steam power used creatively to win wars, escape prisons, and see the rest of the world. If looking to jump into the genre, here are a few suggestions:

Fever Crumb by Phillip Reeve
Foundling Fever Crumb has been raised as an engineer although females in the future London, England, are not believed capable of rational thought, but at age fourteen she leaves her sheltered world and begins to learn startling truths about her past while facing danger in the present.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
In an alternate 1914 Europe, fifteen-year-old Austrian Prince Alek, on the run from the Clanker Powers who are attempting to take over the globe using mechanical machinery, forms an uneasy alliance with Deryn who, disguised as a boy to join the British Air Service, is learning to fly genetically-engineered beasts.

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray travels to England in search of her brother only to be abducted by the Dark Sisters, residents of London's Downworld, home to the city's supernatural folk, and she becomes the object of much attention--both good and bad--when it is discovered she has the power to transform at will into another person.

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
Matt, a young cabin boy aboard an airship, and Kate, a wealthy young girl traveling with her chaperone, team up to search for the existence of mysterious winged creatures reportedly living hundreds of feet above the Earth's surface.

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
A scientist invents a machine that transports him far into the future where he discovers a changed world inhabited by two unusual races, the Eloi and the Morlocks.

The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman
Accompanied by her daemon, Lyra Belacqua sets out to prevent her best friend and other kidnapped children from becoming the subject of gruesome experiments in the Far North.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore
The adventures of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a group composed of characters taken from late 19th Century literature, as they defend Britain against various villains.

City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
In the city of Ember, twelve-year-old Lina trades jobs on Assignment Day to be a Messenger to run to new places in her decaying but beloved city, perhaps even to glimpse Unknown Regions. 

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
To free herself from an upcoming arranged marriage, Claudia, the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, a futuristic prison with a mind of its own, decides to help a young prisoner escape.

Larklight by Philip Reeve
In an alternate Victorian England, young Arthur and his sister Myrtle, residents of Larklight, a floating house in one of Her Majesty's outer space territories, uncover a spidery plot to destroy the solar system.

Airman by Eoin Colfer
In the 1890s on an island off the Irish coast, Conor Broekhart is falsely imprisoned and passes the solitary months by scratching designs of flying machines into the walls, including one for a glider with which he dreams of escape.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Librarian Pick of the Week: The Book Thief

Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: 2006
Age: 13+

This is going to be a classic one day. If you haven't read it, please do.

Synopsis: Set during World War II in Germany, Zusaks groundbreaking novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing, encounters something she cant resist: books.

Review: "Zusak has created a work that deserves the attention of sophisticated teen and adult readers. Death himself narrates the World War II-era story of Liesel Meminger from the time she is taken, at age nine, to live in Molching, Germany, with a foster family in a working-class neighborhood of tough kids, acid-tongued mothers, and loving fathers who earn their living by the work of their hands. The child arrives having just stolen her first book-although she has not yet learned how to read-and her foster father uses it, The Gravedigger's Handbook, to lull her to sleep when she's roused by regular nightmares about her younger brother's death. Across the ensuing years of the late 1930s and into the 1940s, Liesel collects more stolen books as well as a peculiar set of friends: the boy Rudy, the Jewish refugee Max, the mayor's reclusive wife (who has a whole library from which she allows Liesel to steal), and especially her foster parents. Zusak not only creates a mesmerizing and original story but also writes with poetic syntax, causing readers to deliberate over phrases and lines, even as the action impels them forward. Death is not a sentimental storyteller, but he does attend to an array of satisfying details, giving Liesel's story all the nuances of chance, folly, and fulfilled expectation that it deserves. An extraordinary narrative." - School Library Journal

If you're intrigued, don't forget to check our library's catalog for this book!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Librarian's Pick of the Week: The Hobbit

Title: The Hobbit
Author: J.R.R. Tolkein
Genre: Fantasy
Published: 1937
Age: 12+

Considered by many to be the "Greatest Fantasy Epic of Our Time."

Synopsis: Bilbo Baggins was a hobbit who wanted to be left alone in quiet comfort. But the wizard Gandalf came along with a band of homeless dwarves. Soon Bilbo was drawn into their quest, facing evil orcs, savage wolves, giant spiders, and worse unknown dangers. Finally, it was Bilbo-alone and unaided-who had to confront the great dragon Smaug, the terror of an entire countryside . . . This stirring adventure fantasy begins the tale of the hobbits that was continued by J.R.R. Tolkien in his bestselling epic The Lord of the Rings.

If you're intrigued, don't forget to check our library's catalog for this book!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

New Arrivals!!

July 1st - July 15th

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cuteness Overload

"Sea otters hold hands when they sleep, so they don’t drift away from each other."

Friday, July 15, 2011

Librarian's Pick of the Week: City of Bones

Title: City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, Book 1)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: Fantasy
Published: 2007
Age: 14+

Buffy, the Vampire Slayer for the new generation.

Synopsis: When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder--much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing--not even a smear of blood--to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy? This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . . Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare’s ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.

Review: "When Clary Fray witnesses three tattoo-covered teenagers murder another teen, she is unable to prove the crime because the victim disappears right in front of her eyes, and no one else can see the killers. She learns that the teens are Shadowhunters (humans who hunt and kill demons), and Clary, a "mundie" (i.e., mundane human), should not be able to see them either. Shortly after this discovery, her mother, Jocelyn, an erstwhile Shadowhunter, is kidnapped. Jocelyn is the only person who knows the whereabouts of "The Mortal Cup," a dangerous magical item that turns humans into Shadowhunters. Clary must find the cup and keep it from a renegade sector of Shadowhunters bent on eliminating all nonhumans, including benevolent werewolves and friendly vampires. Amid motorcycles powered by demon energies, a telepathic brotherhood of archivists, and other moments of great urban fantasy, the story gets sidetracked by cutesy touches, like the "toasted bat sandwich" on the menu of an otherworldly restaurant. The characters are sporadically characterized and tend toward behavior that is both predictable and slightly repellent-Clary finds out who her real father is about 200 pages after readers will have it figured out. Despite the narrative flaws, this version of New York, full of Buffyesque teens who are trying to save the world, is entertaining and will have fantasy readers anxiously awaiting the next book in the series." - School Library Journal

If you're intrigued, don't forget to check our library's catalog for this book!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Recipe: Fudge Pops

{via Smitten Kitchen}

As usual, I've got you covered! What better way to cool down than with some homemade fudge popsicles? I know you're probably saying, "Me? Cook? Riiight.." But believe me when I say, this recipe is really quite simple. All you need is something to cool the pops in (mold, ice tray, etc.), and the rest I am sure you can find in your mom's cupboard!

Fudge Popsicles
Adapted, just a bit, from On A Stick!

Makes 4 standard-sized popsicles (3 ounces each) or 6 in my tiny* popsicle molds (which were 2 ounces each)
2 tablespoons (21 grams or 3/4 ounce) semisweet chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate
1/3 cup (67 grams or 2 1/3 ounce) sugar
1 tablespoon (7 grams or 1/4 ounce) cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons (8 grams or 1/4 ounce) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) whole milk
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon (3 ml) vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon (7 grams or 1/4 ounce) unsalted butter

In the bottom of a medium saucepan over very low heat, gently melt the chocolate chips, stirring constantly until smooth. Stir in sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, milk and salt and raise heat to medium. Cook mixture, stirring frequently until it thickens, anywhere between 5 minutes (for me) and 10 (suggested in the book). Remove from heat, add vanilla and butter and stir until combined.
Set aside to cool slightly then pour into popsicle molds. Freeze 30 minutes, then insert popsicle sticks. Freeze the rest of the way before serving.

Here's the full post by Smitten Kitchen

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Book Buzz: Issue #5

And now for our fifth issue of The Book Buzz!

Here is a new round of great book reviews from you guys. Since this batch is mostly Young Adult, I thought I'd toss it on the Teen Blog so you can keep up with what your peers are reading these days.  The books featured in the newsletter are all available at the library. For the newsletter, you can either pick up a copy of the newsletter in the Juvenile Fiction section at the library, or you can view the newsletter below.

Don't forget to keep those book reviews coming! We're hoping to put out our next issue at the beginning of September.

If you haven't written a review yet and would like to, you can pick up a book review form in the Juvenile Section of the library. And after you've filled out the form for a book you've read recently, all you have to do is drop it off in the Book Buzz Drop Box.

So stay on the lookout for our next issue of Book Buzz. And keep reading!

Book Buzz Newsletter #5

Friday, July 8, 2011

Librarian's Pick of the Week: The Golden Compass

Title: The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1)
Author: Philip Pullman
Genre: Fantasy
Published: 1995
Age: 14+

Perfect weekend read for fantasy lovers of all ages.

Synopsis: In a landmark epic of fantasy and storytelling, Philip Pullman invites readers into a world as convincing and thoroughly realized as Narnia, Earthsea, or Redwall. Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford's Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her. In this multilayered narrative, however,nothingis as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the compass of the title. All around her children are disappearing--victims of so-called "Gobblers"--and being used as subjects in terrible experiments that separate humans from their daemons, creatures that reflect each person's inner being. And somehow, both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are involved.

Review: "A novel set in London and in the Arctic regions of a world that is somewhat like our own. Lyra, apparently an orphan, lives among the scholars at Jordan College, Oxford. She becomes aware of a nefarious plot to steal children and transport them to the far north. As Lyra is drawn deeper and deeper into this mystery, she finds that the children are being made to suffer terribly. What she does not‘and must not‘know is that she is the keystone in an ancient prophecy. Her destiny is to save her world and to move on into a parallel universe. She dives headlong into harrowing adventures, totally unaware of her importance. She also discovers the identity of her parents, who are major players in the unfolding drama. In Lyra's world, every human has a daemon, an animal that is sort of an extension of one's soul. This fact is central to the story as the church, the academic world, and the government seek to understand the significance of the phenomenon. Also important, but never fully explained, is a substance called Dust. This is a captivating fantasy, filled with excitement, suspense, and unusual characters. The armored bears are wonderful and more interesting than most of the humans. There is some fine descriptive writing, filled with the kind of details that encourage suspension of disbelief. The story line moves along at a rapid clip, but flags when it delves into philosophical matters. The ending is less than satisfying, but serves as a lead-in to part two of the series. Fantasy lovers will be clamoring for the next installment." - School Library Journal

If you're intrigued, don't forget to check our library's catalog for this book!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Invisible Man

Aren't these incredible!? Chinese photographer Liu Bolin carefully covers himself in paint in order to camouflage him against his surroundings. It is estimated that it can take up to 10 hrs to prepare for a single photo shoot.

Friday, July 1, 2011

New Arrivals!

June 16st - June 30th

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